Migrants from Afghanistan and the Middle East continue to cross the border from Poland to Germany. Belarus, accused of forcing migrants into the EU, has passed a law blocking their return.
While the Polish authorities continue to push migrants back across the eastern border to Belarus, more and more migrants from Poland have come to the German federal states of Brandenburg, Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
In the past few days, German police have arrested hundreds of people trying to cross the border, with the number hitting a “new weekend high” in the first few days of October.
Many of the migrants, most of whom come from Iraq, Iran, Syria and Yemen, were taken to reception camps for migrants in Germany, and several people allegedly smuggled into the country were arrested and taken into custody.
EU leaders believe that the increase in irregular border crossings is caused by the fact that Belarus is deliberately sending migrants to the EU’s eastern border. In the past few weeks and months, thousands have tried to get from Belarus to countries like Latvia, Lithuania and Poland – an unprecedented number for the region.
Belarus blocks returning migrants, EU is considering further sanctions
On Monday the Parliament of Belarus adopted legislation The country can refuse to take back migrants from the EU. In response to the situation, the European Commission said it was ready to propose additional sanctions against Belarus.
“We are ready to take further action in response to unacceptable actions by the regime,” said EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson called on Tuesday in the European Parliament.
“The regime is using people in unprecedented ways to put pressure on the European Union,” she said, adding that migrants were enticed to travel to Belarus organized by a state tourism company that pocketed deposits and made them stay forced into state-approved hotels.
“Lukashenko’s desperation is proof that the sanctions hurt,” said Johansson.
Also read: Increase in migrants entering Germany via Poland: Federal Ministry
Containment of migratory flows
Poland is now working to warn potential migrants that the country’s border with Belarus is sealed and not a passage into the European Union. Polish diplomats in Middle Eastern and African countries speak to local media and post messages on the most popular communication channels to discourage people from entering the EU via Belarus, Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz called Tuesday.
According to the European Commission, the number of migrants entering the EU illegally via Belarus has recently decreased significantly. “We have seen a sharp decrease in irregular arrivals from Belarus over the past few weeks,” said Commissioner Johansson. This is mainly due to the fact that there are no more flights from Baghdad to Minsk, said Johansson, adding that the European Commission is seeking contact with other countries of origin in Africa, whose citizens have been misled by the promises of the Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko could become.
The procedure in Poland continues
Poland has sent thousands of troops in the past few weeks and built a barbed wire fence on the border with Belarus to prevent migrants from crossing over.
A Polish ministerial decree issued in September states that those apprehended in the border area must be “brought back to the state border”. The decree runs counter to EU and international law as it allows people to be deported even after they have asked for international protection.
Most migrants have been stuck in a forest area between Belarus and Polish border guards for weeks. At least five people have died in the forest so far, mostly from exposure. Human rights groups have warned of a humanitarian crisis as temperatures continue to drop.
But the Polish government extended the emergency measures by a further 60 days and denied NGOs and journalists access to the 3 km deep strip on the Belarusian border.
The interior minister has also announced plans to strengthen its border with a system of motion sensors and cameras Reuters.
During a visit to Poland last week, Johansson urged Warsaw to respect the European Union’s fundamental rights and obligations. A delegation from the European Commission was due to visit Polish government officials on Wednesday to continue talks.
Also read: “Go back to Minsk!”: Poland’s border guards write to migrants
Warsaw is facing increasing criticism
On Sunday, a senior Polish government official admitted that among those migrant children, including toddlers, the authorities had pushed them back to the Belarusian border.
Poland’s deputy foreign minister said the children were “not driven into the forest, but into the border zone” Talk show broadcast on the TVN24 Channel.
Andrzej Dera, another representative of the ruling PiS party, claimed, however, that migrant families, including small children, had returned from Polish camps to the border zone to seek asylum in Germany instead of Poland.
“You’re [Dera] trying to tell us that parents with young children wanted to be taken to a cold forest and swamp in the middle of the night? Congratulations if someone believes you! “Replied Izabela Leszczyna, a member of the opposition party, also on the program.
Poland’s influential Catholic Church, which has often allied itself with the conservative government, called for humanitarian aid to the migrants on Monday.
Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, the president of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, called for permission to set up humanitarian corridors to control the resettlement of refugees AFP.
Gadecki said authorities have a duty to identify potential threats from people crossing the country’s borders, but they should not stigmatize newcomers with harmful generalizations.
With AFP, Reuters, DPA